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Micro-location technology company Localz named first JLAB winner

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Start up business Localz has won £100,000 in investment and the chance to trial its micro-location technology with John Lewis after winning the retailer's first technology business incubator, JLAB.

The company's technology triggers smartphone messages for customers according to their location. It could, for example, offer customers the chance to have their Click & Collect order picked as they enter the shop in order to make collection quicker. It could also help customers navigate a John Lewis shop based on an online wish list.

Paul Coby, IT Director at John Lewis , said: "Innovation is at the heart of John Lewis and JLAB, our first tech incubator, has given us a new way to explore the technologies that will change how we all shop in the future. It's been a hugely rewarding and educational experience, drawing on a diverse group of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives, and we have a very worthy winner who we're looking forward to working with in the months ahead. I do very much believe that this is what our founder Spedan Lewis would be doing if he was around today."

Hundreds of startups applied to take part in JLAB and in May Localz was picked as a finalist alongside Musaic, SpaceDesigned, Tap2Connect and Viewsy. Over a 12-week period the five finalists developed their ideas with the assistance of mentors from John Lewis as well as high-profile entrepreneurial figures including Luke Johnson, Chairman of Risk Capital Partners, Sara Murray OBE, founder of confused.com and Buddi, and Bindi Karia, vice president entrepreneur banking at Silicon Valley Bank. Localz emerged as the overall winner on the final pitch day, September 23.

Stuart Marks, partner in JLAB, said: "The quality of entries was exceptionally high and picking a winner proved to be a very difficult process. I am sure all the companies will go on to become very successful but there has to be a winner and in this case we felt that Localz has the potential to become a long term partner to John Lewis and to provide continuous innovation for their customers."

Localz will use the £100,000 investment to build its UK operations as it develops its technology in conjunction with John Lewis and prepares to launch live trials in store.

Tim Andrew, commercial director and co-founder of Localz, said: "JLAB has been an amazing experience for Localz from start to finish. The fact that my father was a partner with John Lewis for over 30 years gave me a very personal reason to want to be a part of it."

He added: "The support and guidance that John Lewis provided throughout the incubation period helped us refine our offering for the European market. They also gave us access to successful entrepreneurs and mentors from diverse backgrounds and industries which allowed us to accelerate our development."

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